Dutch experts call for forced birth control

RNW archive

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Compulsory birth control should be introduced for serious drug addicts, psychiatric patients and people with mental disabilities, according to the former chairman of the Dutch Safety Board Pieter van Vollenhoven.

“Most people will say that’s going too far,” Mr Van Vollenhoven says, speaking on the current affairs TV programme Zembla, to be broadcast on Friday. “I must say I can imagine it if you don’t know the reality. There are people who can’t control themselves. If you observe this, you should perhaps resort to contraception.”

Mr Van Vollenhoven’s proposal draws support in the programme from a number of experts in the field. They include Amsterdam’s child welfare chief, the head of mental health and addiction organisation Bouman GGZ, and a former juvenile court judge and Socialist Party senator.

More than fifty children a year in the Netherlands die as a result of abuse by their parents, the programme reports. “The majority of these parents have a psychiatric problem, are addicted to alcohol or drugs, or are mentally impaired,” says Rob Bilo of the Netherlands Forensic Institute. “They are damaged parents.”

The law should be changed so that such parents can be legally required to use contraception, argues Mr Van Vollenhoven, the husband of Princess Margriet of the Netherlands.

At present the law only allows for action to be taken to protect an unborn child when a woman is 24 weeks pregnant. She can then be committed for involuntary psychiatric treatment. After the birth, the child is taken into care.


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